Monday, June 30, 2014


First Contact Picard (Photo: Screenused)
The latest auction catalog from Screenused is now available and, as usual, there's some very nice Star Trek pieces from many of the various Trek incarnations. There are items starting as low as $50 which is always nice to see. On the flip side of pricing, there's a couple of pieces with a starting price of $7,000, so don't think there's bargains everywhere. One of these pieces is a Spock Commando uniform from Star Trek V, while the other is a Picard from First Contact.

The Picard is a TRUE First Contact style uniform. The jacket zips open – a rarity for these costumes – and shows the specific FC style neck opening which changed on later productions. Not many of this style appeared to survive. The vast majority of uniforms ID'd as the First Contact style in the IAW auctions were actually later DS9/Nemesis pieces as evidenced by the neck detail. This piece also features pants with a costumer's tag reading ‘Star Trek VII, Patrick Stewart, Never Worn’. Buyers will have to decide if the "nor worn" aspect makes a difference to them. The shirt features a sewn in tag that reads ‘PICARD’, so all parts are true "Picard" and apparently not stunt versions as the term "stunt" is not mentioned. With a starting price of $7,000, this piece doesn't come cheap (with the buyer's premium the TRUE start price is $8400!). I'm not aware of a FC Picard going for this much outside of the Christie's auction in which everything went for a premium. That Picard went for an amazing $18,000, but that was before collectors realized that more were to be had. Still, it's not like they are making any more of these, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it sell.

There are also TNG Data and Riker pieces starting at $5,500 and $6,500 respectively, as well as some background uniforms starting much lower.

Of special note to TOS fans like myself, there's a gray TMP Class D jumpsuit made for Dr. McCoy himself, DeForest Kelley. I'm not a huge fan of the style, but a McCoy of any kind is always cool! It starts at $4000.

Check out all these pieces and other great Star Trek items at the Screenused site:  Screenused Catalog



Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The tricorder is one of the fundamental pieces of Star Trek Tech along with its other landing party constituents, the Phaser and the Communicator. The tricorder has appeared as an important story-telling device in every incarnation of Star Trek beginning in 1966 right through to the current movie version. But what was the nature of its first appearance? Was it used on some far-flung planet to detect some new type of life form? To find some exotic element on an alien asteroid? How about... as a tape recorder for a meeting?

That's right – the first time we ever see the super-complex, ultra-sophisticated device, it is sitting on a conference room table and is apparently taking the minutes of a meeting. Exciting adventure stuff, right? Hey, everything has to start someplace.

In the early original series (TOS) episode "Mudd's Women", the scoundrel Harry Mudd is brought into the Enterprise's conference room for questioning. Sitting on the table throughout the meeting is a lone tricorder. No one ever acknowledges it, looks at it or touches it. It's just sitting. Is it on? Who knows? Basically, it's just so much set dressing. A background prop used as a futuristic tape recorder.

But fear not. In later episodes – and over the decades – the tricorder would establish its value by presenting key information to our characters in times of crisis. Time and again it would supply important, tale-turning data that let the writers tell their stories in a more concise way than would otherwise have been possible.

The tricorder would take on many forms, with many diverse capabilities. but it all started with this first innocuous glimpse in an early episode where it's basically just so much office equipment. But great things would come!

NOTE: while the tricorder was actually first shown on television in the episode "The Man Trap", "Mudd's Women" was filmed first and so was the first produced episode to show a tric.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Here's a great new video featuring legendary Star Trek prop maker Michael Moore. He offers some great insight about prop-making in general and Star Trek props, specifically. This video is Part 1:

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (TSFS) was released on June1, 1984. It was the hotly-anticipated followup to 1982's surprising hit Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I vividly recall driving up to the Colony Theater near Cleveland to see TSFS on opening night. The Colony offered what few theaters had – a showing in 70mm! My then-fiance (now wife) Paula and I sat in the balcony to witness the film on the theater's huge screen. It was the closest to IMAX you could get back then and it was thrilling.

The Search For Spock was looked on with uncertainty. First of all, it was directed by then-novice director Leonard Nimoy, who, though he knew Star Trek well, was considered a risky choice due to the fact that he had never directed a film before – a legitimate concern for all. Plus, it would be tough for any film to follow Wrath of Khan, a movie that is still considered to be the peak of Star Trek story-telling. Which meant that expectations were set high – perhaps too high? – for its sequel. When the dust settled, Search For Spock opened very well, winning the #1 spot for its debut, and got overall good reviews. But, as was inevitable, it was seen as a bit of a let-down after Wrath of Khan. And, while I have to agree that it wasn't as strong as Khan (what is?), I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable –  just as I still do now, some thirty years later.

So what is the magic of Search For Spock? For me, it contains some of the best character moments in all of Star Trek while delivering an action-filled plot that stood on its own merits. And it was   connected to Wrath of Khan by continuing where that story left off. It also added elements to Star Trek that would be used for the next twenty years over every incarnation of Trek that would follow.


Early in the film, Kirk is visited by Spock's father Sarek who demands that Kirk explain himself. The ensuing scene features a uniquely Star Trek device, the Vulcan mind-meld. During that moment, Shatner shows Kirk reliving the death of his friend Spock and takes us with him through his heartache and loss. It is a pivotal moment in all of Star Trek that defines the friendship of Kirk and Spock like never before and shows a side of Vulcans never before seen – that of grief for a loved one. Mark Lenard's stoic Sarek avoids the cliche emotional displays that most films would show and instead displays his loss and despair in a tightly-controlled performance. The novice director showed he understood this material in a very personal way.

Later, after Spock's body has been rescued from the Genesis Planet, we get yet another seminal moment in Star Trek, this time through DeForest Kelley's performance of the irascible "Bones" McCoy. Again, the director takes the character to a place we've never seen before, showing us McCoy's pain over Spock's death, showing us in an intimate, private way, just how this man feels about his lost friend. The writing, acting and direction all come together in a way that we seldom see in almost 50 years of Star Trek. It still moves me to this day.

The climax of the film – the scene on Vulcan – will always be one of the best Star Trek scenes for me. Spock relives his own moment of decision to give his life for his ship and crew who – even in that moment of confusion – are still his top priority. He's told that the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many. As Spock makes the slow realization of who Kirk and McCoy are, we see a slow awakening of our friend. He's not quite there yet, but we now know that all will be well.

The death of the Enterprise herself is a powerful, historic moment. To any Star Trek fan, the Enterprise  is a character. As McCoy said in his Next Generation appearance, "You treat her like a lady, and she'll always bring you home." But this time, the Enterprise was called on for the ultimate sacrifice – she would die so her crew would live. As the exploding disk of the main hull comes at us and her fiery mass streaked across the sky of the Genesis Planet, I couldn't help but feel the loss of a friend.

For me, these moments are second only to Spock's actual death in Wrath of Khan. They were handled with a sensitivity seldom seen in Star Trek, a feature that would define Leonard Nimoy's directing style.

There are also great funny moments for all the characters as well, from Sulu's demolishing of the security guard that is twice his size ("Don't call me tiny!") to Scotty's dismissal of the Excelsior as an inferior ship ("Up yer shaft!") and Uhura's "Mr. Adventure" scene. These little moments that could have been thrown away are, instead, played for fun to great effect. And when McCoy mutters about "That green-blooded son of a bitch!" we're given a genuine belly laugh and a memorable moment.


While the first Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, gave us an updated look to the Klingons, the film added nothing to Trek's most famous aliens beyond a new makeup job and a language. That all changed with Search For Spock. Here we were introduced to what would be the defining moment for Klingons going forward through Christopher Lloyd's awesome portrayal of Klingon Captain Kruge, a ruthless, yet, in his own way, honorable soldier for his Empire. He takes no great joy from killing – it is simply the Klingon way. The path to success for Klingons is shown to be very straight-forward: success or death. We're introduced to the now well known Klingon utterance "Q'apla!" – "Success!"  The Klingon character as presented in Search For Spock is the one we still think of today as the quintessential Klingon. The look of their uniforms and technology has also stood the test of time with TSFS influences even appearing in the recent Into Darkness.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture, presented a new, upgraded Starship Enterprise to the world of Trek. But Search For Spock would give us more defining Star Trek elements than any other single entity since The Original Series.

The Klingon Bird of Prey – Prior to TSFS, we were only shown one type of Klingon ship, a design that went back to The Original Series. The Motion Picture updated the details, but it was still fundamentally the same ship. But TSFS would introduce us to what would become the most ubiquitous of Klingon ships, the Bird Of Prey. This was definitely a new and awesome Klingon weapon. It looked deadly and dramatic as it made attack runs and deployed it "wings" for battle. Other than the Enterprise herself, no other ship design stands out more in all of Star Trek than the Klingon Bird of Prey. It would be used in every incarnation of Trek after TSFS.

Starfleet Spacedock – The Motion Picture gave us a latticed orbital drydock facility in which the new Enterprise was shown. But that wasn't enough for TSFS! An entirely new orbital facility was introduced, this one on a gargantuan scale – Spacedock. Spacedock was so large that it could house several starships at once. It introduced a larger, grander scale to Star Trek than we had ever seen before. We thought the orbital office complex shown in The Motion Picture was something, but that was dwarfed by this immense structure that could swallow starships whole. Spacedock would be used throughout the TOS movies and into The Next Generation where it was featured as a Starbase.

The USS Grissom As cool as the Reliant had been in Wrath of Khan, so too was the Grissom in TSFS. It would introduce us to an all-new starship configuration, identified in the story as a science ship. Grissom became the third starship configuration ever seen in Star Trek. Dozens more would follow it over the decades, but she was all-new to audiences and ANY starship addition was seen as cool! Grissom didn't disappoint and the model would be used again to represent other starships in later Treks.

The USS Excelsior Yet another new ship, this time one meant to supplant the Enterprise. Sort of. In the film, Excelsior is presented as the latest, greatest in starship development, a craft with an experimental system called "trans-warp drive". And while the model was used over and over in later Trek incarnations and was even the basis for the Enterprise-B in Generations, I've always felt there was something odd about her. I always thought that the designer's intent was to portray Excelsior as an overdone, bloated whale of a starship, a trait that is accentuated by Scotty's easy sabotaging of her. She sputtered and groaned like an old car. I know a lot of fans love the Excelsior and think of her as a worthy addition to Starfleet, but I've never agreed. Even the bridge was overdone. Regardless, she sure got around, making countless appearances in later episodic Star Treks.

Klingon Technology – Along with defining a new ship and backstory to the Klingons, TSFS also gave a new approach to Klingon tech. Gone were the shiny props from The Original Series. In their place were weapons and tricorders designed to look very utilitarian and very used. They were weathered and rusty and looked great! Again, this design approach would define Klingon design forever after. Pieces included Disruptor pistols (which still emulated a "flintlock" pistol shape like those seen in The Original Series), a rifle that could be assembled from the pistol by adding a stock, a tricorder with lights and a communicator. All were painted a brownish rust color to unify the look.

The Planet Vulcan – The Original Series actually showed us Vulcan once, in the classic episode "Amok Time". But that portrayal was done on the shoe-string budget of 60's television. This time we were presented with a larger, grander Vulcan, one steeped in desert life and tradition. Dozens and dozens of Vulcan extras helped present the world in a new, sweeping scale. For the first time, Spock's home world was truly defined for us in a visual way.

The Search For Spock also gave us new Starfleet uniform variants, a new take on civilian clothes in the 23rd century (not all of which were successful ( can you say "Pilgrim Chekov"?), bars (and waitresses), new phasers and communicators, an insight into Starfleet hierarchy and a zillion other little things that helped round out the story.

Over the years there's been a lot of talk about the "Odd Star Trek Movie Curse", meaning that the odd-numbered films weren't as good as the even-numbered. I've never found that to be true. Though I certainly agree that the first and fifth film are the weakest (with a special mention for Star Trek V), The Search For Spock has always been an able entry and one of my favorites of the entire film series. While it was not as fast-paced as Wrath of Khan, it was certainly not slow. And the emotional moments along the way were more-than-adequate payoffs for any slow-downs along the way.

If you haven't seen Star Trek III: The Search For Spock lately, I recommend you give it a shot. Keep in mind that tons of the things that you see had never been seen before. It's a lot of fun, very inventive, and might just be better than you thought it was!



Wednesday, June 11, 2014


The only good thing about ST:V – the poster
I know two things about Star Trek V, which turns 25 today:

1. It still sucks.


B. As bad as it is, it's still better than Into Darkness.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Over on they have a story about Netflix being in talks with CBS to produce a new Trek TV version.  Alas, it was too good to be true:

Larry Nemecek weighs in



Monday, June 9, 2014


From here's a very cool story from the ISS:

Unused Klingon-inspired ISS mission patch design (NASA)
June 6,  2014 – In a mirror universe right now,  an alternate Steve Swanson is wearing a space patch bearing the logo of the fictional Klingon Empire. In our reality, though, NASA jettisoned the astronaut's "Star Trek" inspired emblem before it could reach space. Swanson,  who currently is commander of the International Space Station, collaborated with his daughter to create an insignia for the outpost's Expedition 40 crew. What he and his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts ultimately launched with to the space station was a patch depicting the "past, present, and future of human space exploration." What Swanson had first proposed however, was a badge of a decidedly different type. "He wanted something that was kind of badass," revealed Mary Swanson, Steve's wife,  in a call with collectSPACE, "and Klingons are kind of badass."

Actual mission patch sans-Klingon logo (NASA)
Swanson and his daughter, a computer science major who began her studies in graphic design,  modified the Klingon patch, replacing its image of a sword-like weapon called a "Bat'leth" with a similarly-shaped icon depicting the space station. A Klingon language inscription along the border of the original emblem was supplanted by the Swansons with the names of the six-person Expedition 40 crew.

His Klingon patch was grounded,  but as it turns out,  Steve Swanson still found a way to fly the Klingon trefoil logo in space. Posting where no astronaut had posted before, Swanson inaugurated the on-orbit use of the space station's official Instagram account. In April, he shared a few selfies on the photo-sharing social network. His second shot showed him having blood drawn for study but it wasn't the science experiment that drew attention to the photo. Swanson is seen wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a certain three-pointed emblem, a cloaked reference to the patch that almost was.

Astronaut Steve Swanson's sports the Klingon logo (NASA)
 Thanks to!



Friday, June 6, 2014


Everybody's favorite Kirk, Canadian actor William Shatner, will beam into Alberta next month to lead the 2014 Calgary Stampede Parade as Grand Marshall.

Many fans of Star Trek are not aware that The Shat is quite the horseman. For the past 24 years he has spearheaded the Hollywood Charity Horse Show to raise money for children's charities.

The Calgary Stampede.The Calgary Stampede runs from July 4 to 13. "Leading the parade will be quite a way to experience my first time,” Shatner said in a release Tuesday. Pretty good for an 83-year-old!

Starship captain and Zorro impersonator William Shatner will be Grand Marshall at the Calgary Stampede


Monday, June 2, 2014


Let me begin by just stating that I am not under the delusion that Paramount gives a crap about what I think. So with that in mind, release the Kraken!

Everyone has their own idea of what Star Trek is. But to a guy who grew up with the original series which was aired during the height of the Space Race, Star Trek was about the adventure and promise of the future. It was about exploring the unknown. Its mission was, as the opening narration told us, "to explore strange new worlds". Heady stuff for a kid in Akron, Ohio who watched the Apollo missions literally take men to where no one had gone before.

So, in a nutshell, Star Trek was about telling stories about what's out there. It might be weird, it might be violent, or it just might be eerily familiar, but it was always exciting, always an adventure.

Flash forward to 2013 and we find that all of that has been abandoned in the current incarnations of Trek. There is not a hint of exploring new ground, either metaphorically or literally. In new Star Trek, it's all about The Threat To Earth, a theme that unfortunately took over the franchise with 1996's Star Trek: First Contact and never let go. Most every film since then has been about saving the world rather than exploring the universe. It's more about war than making peace. And while original Trek certainly had its share of gunboat diplomacy and fisticuffs, at its heart was the concept of bettering ourselves and others through mutual cooperation. Of finding enemies and making them friends.

And here's the problem with that: it's hard to do. It's tough to write an exciting, engaging story about space exploration, especially when compared to writing what are essentially simple war stories. Star Trek has existed for almost fifty years and the low-hanging fruit is gone. Stories about The Cold Planet or the Warring Planet or the Nazi Planet or The Planet With Sort-of American Indians have all been done. Thankfully. Now let's move on to themes more in keeping with ideas that are truly new.

It's hard? So what? If it was easy, anybody could do it, right? So, Paramount, here's my suggestion: go out and hire some writers who are actually interested in writing something new that takes us into the deep unknown and challenges our crew in a way they've never before been challenged. Yes, it can have space battles and conflict, but it can't be just about that stuff. Explosions are not content, they are filler. Characters are what we connect to, not lens flares. And here's something to keep in mind – having a character say the word "family" without anything to back that up emotionally does NOT make the film about family. It's a shallow, cheap way to try to connect. It is ultimately empty, and without resonance. But when Spock died in Wrath of Khan, THAT was family being torn asunder. THAT was a real connection.

And that is what I think the best of Star Trek is about. That's where the bar is set. Please, please, don't settle for a mediocre film experience. Thousands of us will be holding back our money if that happens.

Aim high. Go boldly.